You’ve no doubt heard about the parable of the seed and the sower? It’s one of those stories I’ve seen illustrated with little shreds of flannel when I was in 2nd grade, heard it taught at camp by a guy who illustrated it in what was called a “chalk talk” and studied it in seminary.
In spite of all this, it was only today that I was really struck by the fact this guy wasn’t very careful about where he put his seeds. Rocky soil, good soil, the side of the road, amidst weeds… come on farmer man, take aim! In spite of his seeming to sow seeds like a blind man, Jesus’ interpretation of the parable says nothing about being more careful, no, “so folks, let’s learn from this silly wasteful farmer about the importance of only planting seeds where we know they will be fruitful.” To the contrary, when Jesus says that “the seed is the word of God”, He’s saying: “this is the way it is – the seed will be scattered everywhere – EVERYWHERE!”
The gospel isn’t supposed to be shared like a smart bomb: find your target, take aim, fire. It’s supposed to be shared like a reckless farmer throwing seed everywhere, and this reality has some profound implications:
#1 – I need to stop preemptively assuming that people are or aren’t ready to hear about Christ. I can find ways to build bridges, find ways to serve and embody hope, and listen clearly so that I might know when to speak and when to be silent, but we’re all soil, all in need of encounters with the holy, the true, and beautiful. If it’s true that Jesus has ushered in God’s Good Reign, then to presume that my cranky neighbor won’t be interested or responsive (so ‘I’ll just save the seed’) doesn’t make me a smart farmer – it makes me a farmer unlike the one about which Jesus spoke. Sow generously!
#2 – I need to stop presuming who I’m able to reach. Some people who ran a ministry in the Alps years ago didn’t have a target audience. They simply prayed that God would bring ‘the people of His choosing’, and they were content to believe that whoever God brought were precisely the people God wanted there. Of course it’s usually true that thinkers attract thinkers, skaters attract skaters, etc. But it’s dangerous to presume your scope of influence because God might be using you to change the lives of people very different than you.#3 – I need to expect fruit. I don’t know when it will come, or how, or how much. I only know that this is what God does. This makes the starting point: “Thank you” rather than, “God will you please….” because I genuinely believe that to the extent I’m living in dependency, looking to Christ to express life through my, I can equally enjoy the confidence that He will do just that. The nature, timing, and scope of the fruit are God’s prerogative. But the promise of fruit stands, and as a result, we’re free to expect that God will work miracles through us, ‘beyond what we can ask, or hope, or imagine’.
A British soldier picks up a German hitchiker in post-war Germany, as the reconstruction continues. By the end of the evening, the German soldier has said yes to Christ, and goes home to share the news of his discovery with friends. Soon he and his friends are off to England in order to learn more. Eventually that same hitchiker will return to the continent and begin a Bible School in Austria which will spawn numerous other ministries around the world.
One hitchiker… it would have been easy for a British officer to drive right past a German youth right?one seed. But the British officer was a farmer – and 50 years later there are thousands who’ve attended Bible School in a Castle in Alps and gone on to be the presence of Christ around the world. I like farming…
We’re close to Easter, and I encourage you to sow seeds by praying for your neighbors and inviting them to be with you when you celebrate the resurrection on April 4th. So sew… and let the adventure begin.